I was down at The Faldo Institute recently. This is a huge practice facility here in Orlando,
Florida, obviously named after Nick Faldo.
While practicing, I looked over and there was Nick, hitting some bunker shots.
What saw amazed me. Nick had a couple of instructors around him watching every
fragment of his technique. One guy was watching his body movement, the other his
clubface positions. Actually, this wasn't too amazing because this is what he does
quite a bit. But the problem in this situation was that it was only a couple of days
after Nick had been thumped by Tiger in the World Match Play, where he
was doing about 20 drills before each shot!
It was almost comical to watch because this was the easiest bunker shot in the world.
It's a shot Nick has executed a million times and undoubtedly could do with his eyes
closed. Why he needed an entourage around him is something I just don't understand.
As I was watching, I kept saying to myself, when is Nick going to say "enough is
enough"? When is he going to just forget about all of the nuances of the swing
and get back to playing golf?
I think this is an important question for all of us to ask ourselves when we become
too technical with our game. The thing to remember is that golf is a sport, and
the golf swing is an athletic action. It's not a series of positions, or a bunch of links.
It's an aggressive, athletic action, and when we think otherwise we?re doomed.
Now certainly I am not saying that it's not important to know some mechanics
about the swing, and what it takes to get the ball from point A to point B. After
all, that is the purpose of much of this e-lesson program. Likewise, nobody on
tour was born with a perfect swing path and plane. This comes from hard work
and an understanding of their swing.
However, the line must be drawn somewhere on one's approach to the mechanics
of golf. It is definitely drawn in other sports. Do you think Roger Clemens throws
a fast ball while thinking of arm angles and pivot positions? I highly doubt it. Do
you think Michael Jordan used to take jump shots while thinking of degree of
calf tension or the radius of his follow through? I think not! Sometimes, if not all
the time, it's just a matter of looking at the target and letting it go.
So how do you know if you've become too mechanical?
In my opinion, if you are thinking of more than one swing thought, you are too
mechanical. I don't have a problem with a swing thought here or there. A lot of
times I even encourage it because it can take the pressure off if you concentrate on
one. Although anymore than one will usually lead to "paralysis from analysis."
What do you do if you are all hung up on swing mechanics?
The best thing I have found to do, and which I've seen others do, is simply hit
the ball hard. Just stand up and rip the ball with a very aggressive swing. You
will find it very difficult to think technical when you are trying to hit something hard.
Ben Hogan used to play this way. He said he wished he had "three right hands"
because he wanted to hit the ball that hard, and avoid the tentativeness brought
on from mechanics.
Even one of the best players in the world, Lee Westwood, was not very good
just a few years ago. His mind was saturated with mechanics and he was nothing
more than an average player on the European Tour. Then he decided to
forget about technique, and start swinging aggressively. As a result, he is now a
So if you find that you are all bogged down in technique, try hitting the ball hard.
Get the aggressiveness back in your swing, and your good shots will
Columns ©1999 Joseph K. Sullivan and GolfLink Inc. All rights reserved.